Anton Ferdinand leads protest

  • Last Updated: October 21 2012, 20:37 BST

QPR defender Anton Ferdinand and a number of his team-mates did not wear t-shirts in support of the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign ahead of their Premier League clash with Everton on Sunday.

Anton Ferdinand: Joined by QPR team-mates in protest

The 27-year-old was the victim of racial abuse from Chelsea skipper John Terry in a league match last October, with Terry accepting a four-match suspension and £220,000 fine relating to the incident earlier this week.

Ferdinand was joined in not wearing the t-shirt on Sunday by Rangers team-mates Shaun Wright-Phillips and Junior Hoilett, following the stance taken by Ferdinand's brother Rio prior to Manchester United's game against Stoke on Saturday and by Reading striker Jason Roberts.

Everton's Nigeria international Victor Anichebe was another who decided against showing support towards Kick It Out at Loftus Road, along with team-mate Sylvain Distin.

Later on Sunday, PFA chairman and Kick It Out ambassador Clarke Carlisle defended the rights of players who chose not to wear a t-shirt, and said punishing them would be contrary to the organisation's goals.

Several players took the stance to show their unhappiness with what they consider a lack of progress on racism.

Rio Ferdinand's decision brought strong criticism from his manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who promised the player would be "dealt with".

On Friday, Ferguson had publicly criticised Jason Roberts' stated intention to snub the t-shirt and promised all of his players would wear them.

While PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor felt the protests were "misguided", Carlisle said he did not want to see Ferdinand disciplined by United, and promised the PFA would support him in the matter.

"Sir Alex Ferguson is trying to reaffirm his unwavering support of the Kick It Out campaign, and that's fantastic," said Carlisle.

"But this should not be seen as player-versus-club or dissension from a player against their employer.

"This is about a group of players and some wider issues that transcend that relationship..."

"We would not want to see Rio Ferdinand punished. As I said of the handshake saga, you cannot coerce any man against his will and to do so would be the complete opposite of what the campaign is for.

"(Reading manager) Brian McDermott and (Newcastle manager) Alan Pardew said they had good conversations with their players to understand why (they did not wear the t-shirt) and they respect them in that.

"Sir Alex Ferguson pointed out in his own interview he did not know why Jason Roberts or any other player would not want to wear the t-shirt, so I hope that conversation takes place in the next couple of days."

Taylor told TalkSPORT he was disappointed by the players' decisions.

"I feel to some extent it's misguided and I feel it's quite disrespectful of people like Herman Ouseley, who has spent a lifetime fighting racism, also on the trustees we have people such as Paul Elliott and Garth Crooks," he said.

"This is a lobby group, it just seems odd to aim their attention at a group, albeit supported by the FA, and the Premier League as well as the PFA, whose job it is to try and send out a message against racism.

"So it is quite a concern, I can understand the frustration with the events that have been in place but the fact is Kick It Out is not the disciplinary body."

The t-shirt campaign also came days after ugly scenes in Serbia where Danny Rose was sent off at the end of an England Under-21 match during which he complained of constant racist abuse from the crowd.

On Sunday night, Northumbria Police said they were investigating one report of racist abuse from a supporter during the 1-1 draw between Sunderland and Newcastle at the Stadium of Light.

Carlisle said he had spoken to a number of the players who chose not to wear the t-shirt, and had listened to their concerns.

"This is a group of players who are trying to make a statement," he said. "They want to express they're unhappy with the way that issues have been dealt with over the past 12-18 months, and there are things they would like to change about the way we approach this battle with regards to racial abuse.

"This is not a problem with Kick It Out per se, though they would like Kick It Out to be more vocal and authoritative. But the main point they would like to make is about the way governing bodies have approached issues over the past 12-18 months, the way they have investigated them and the expediency of those investigations, and how weak the sanctions were at the end of them.

"This is not just the FA, it's UEFA and FIFA and it ties in with other issues the players want their union to address. This was their opportunity to make that stand."

QPR boss Mark Hughes said he had spoken to his players collectively earlier in the week and expected everyone to take part, but added he would not sanction those who did not.

"It is a personal thing," he said. "My personal belief is that any campaign that focusing on taking racism out of sport and football is a good thing and we should try and support it."

However, Hughes also expects the stance taken by the players to have an impact.

"I think the point has been made that they want more to be done and I'm sure because of the strength of feeling people involved with these organisations will look at themselves and question themselves," he added.

Opposite number David Moyes said he made it clear to his players he would support them either way.

"I did speak to the players and gave them the opportunity and it was up to them to decide what they wanted to do and how they felt," he said.

"I told them how I felt and I understand their point of views and I'm totally supportive of my players if that is what they choose to do..."

"I don't think they are disappointed in the Kick It Out campaign, I think they are more disappointed in other authorities maybe in the way they have taken action."

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